Upon the end of times, says Danilo Kiš, we'll all be speaking Hebrew,
„the language of beginnings and the end",
but he never tells us whom we'll be speakingto whom we will address in articulo mortis
in the face of whom will we beseech the extreme unction at the sense of the atomic heat of death -
but I don't think we'll speak rather we will suspect a kind of speech
a new unknown smell like when you go to foreign lands
where the people see you a curious stranger
a shiver of stuff in the instant someone blows over a dampened paper
right before writing something unimportant.
It will all happen slowly like on the days you start learning a new language
or writing from dictation - this time without the rush of a malicious bell -
a black board will stand before us and we'll step out alphabetically
called on by a voice heard only in our heads coupled to
the heads of those around us
a sea of skulls perceiving the same clear sound of a multiple end
like cigarette smoke stirring new passions or awaking forgotten ones
and I allow myself to think there won't be „an end", dear Danilo,
but more like one each in the head of the Romanian the Polish
or the Ukrainian the Hungarian or the Idish speaker
while chanting a prayer for the dead.
A Kaddish for them all in the heavy tongue of the twilight of the world.
On the board each will write the secret name they were called by once
in a dream by someone who could've been their mother but wasn't.
These names are not known here on earth but have their own sweetness
when written and we will know they are truly ours
and that we were called thus by the one who gave them onto us once and now
they're given back to us again.
Like when it rains for each and all feel in the same way
that they're being caressed. In the rain people are brothers, but each dries out
on their own rope.
That's how I think things are upon departure - we are bathed and pampered
and none has any grief.

by Nicolae Coande

Other poems of NICOLAE COANDE (11)

Comments (1)

Unfortunately I'm a bit lacking in context for this but no matter: it is still a very powerful piece of poetry working on several levels with much intelligence and poetic craft on display. It appears to contain much social comment that is time contextualised.68 was a time of student unrest, social change, the war of ideas was livelier - with much less self censorship going on than there is now especially - than it is now. If it was in the French sector than it might be connected to events in France where the level of unrest was probably as high as anywhere - including the US campuses. The LGH is probably a hospital - not too hard to deduce from the intro stanza - though it might be symbolic. Sounds as much like an attitudinal change process as anything. The final stanza reminds obviously of Icarus, and therefore Joni Mitchell's Song for Amelia, but especially of Jackson Browne's Before The Deluge 'In the end they traded their tired wings For the resignation that living brings.. 'etc. I enjoyed this introspective (retrospective work?) immensely. Challenging, stimulating and very poetic. Glad to have found this. I'll be back if there's more like this. Thanks, jim (a reader not a poet)